A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel is packed with over-the-top action sequences of sword and musket battles, but there's no blood and most characters (save a few) escape fatal injury. The language is limited to "s--t," "damn," "bleeding," and "t-t" (those last two being British slang), and the sexuality includes corset-popping dresses, a few kisses, and some overt flirting. Although this is a classic tale, it's worth remembering that the Three Musketeers are courageous but flawed characters and that the moral of love above duty and country is a somewhat mixed message.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Penniless country boy D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) travels to Paris to find the Musketeers -- angry Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), brawny Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and philosophical Aramis (Luke Evans). After a brush with Cardinal Richelieu's guards -- led by the villainous Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) -- D'Artagnan joins forces with the Musketeers, who are wanted by the scheming Richelieu (Christoph Waltz). The cardinal enlists manipulative mercenary Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) to make King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) believe that Queen Anne (Juno Temple) is cheating on him with Duke Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) so that the young French monarch will declare war on England. But the Musketeers and D'Artagnan discover the plot and attempt to stop the cardinal from succeeding.
Is it any good?
For an epic swashbuckler, this classic adventure is disappointing and downright soporific. The extravagant set pieces may be grand and the air ships quite cool, but otherwise there's no oomph to this unnecessary adaptation. Despite the decent cast and all the rapid-fire editing of the fight sequences, the story doesn't come to life, and the actors just seem to be dialing in their performances. With all the blossoming romance between D'Artagnan and Constance and the king and queen, it's clear that the movie is actually made for action-loving boys and lovesick girls who won't care about the big picture.
Mikkelsen and Waltz, both of whom must be bored playing baddies at this point in their careers, need to find roles that don't typecast them as villains. The impressive spark from Lerman's performance in 3:10 to Yuma has been replaced by the smirk of a pretty young actor who's coasting on his good looks. As for the Three Musketeers themselves, they're forgettable and underdeveloped, a tragic combination for some of literature's most interesting warriors. Ultimately, this is a skippable movie that insults audiences with a cliffhanger ending that all but begs for a sequel. May the studio have enough sense to let this particular Musketeer adventure end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence and how it's portrayed. Is it casual and humorous or necessary and serious?
How does this adaptation differ from previous adaptations of The Three Musketeers?
Do you agree with Athos' advice to D'Artagnan to forget about king and country and save the woman he loves?
- In theaters: October 21, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: March 13, 2012
- Cast: Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom
- Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of adventure action violence
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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